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Book part
Publication date: 7 June 2019

Dawn R. Elm

Cognitive moral development, often referred to as moral reasoning, stems from the field of cognitive developmental psychology and moral psychology. Early work done by Jean…

Abstract

Cognitive moral development, often referred to as moral reasoning, stems from the field of cognitive developmental psychology and moral psychology. Early work done by Jean Piaget studying the cognitive abilities of children to make moral judgments as they grow and mature created the foundation for the later work of Lawrence Kohlberg and James Rest in studying the moral reasoning abilities of adults. Thus, moral reasoning refers to the cognitive process of how a person reasons about ethical situations. This chapter will present the evolution of the use and validity of cognitive moral development/moral reasoning in determining how individuals resolve ethical or moral dilemmas. Further, more recent models and potential measurement of moral reasoning and ethical decision-making including our intuition and emotions will be discussed and suggestions regarding directions for developing methods to measure such cognitive and emotional (or intuitive) means by which individuals make difficult moral choices will be discussed.

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Article
Publication date: 29 June 2020

Hosun Lee, Dae Ryun Chang and Sabine Einwiller

This study aims to examine how consumers use a moral reasoning process to defend preferred celebrity and celebrity brand images and specifically, the processes for…

Abstract

Purpose

This study aims to examine how consumers use a moral reasoning process to defend preferred celebrity and celebrity brand images and specifically, the processes for supporting the celebrity’s comeback after a transgression.

Design/methodology/approach

Study 1 measures consumers’ preference for celebrities and their support for them after a transgression and tests whether the celebrity’s image moderates consumers’ preference for celebrities and their support of them to come back. Study 2 examines the effect of the specific moral reasoning processes and tests whether it leads to different levels of support after a transgression, depending on the primed celebrity image.

Findings

Results show celebrity preference is positively related to consumer support of a celebrity’s return after a wrongdoing. This relationship is moderated by the celebrity’s image (Study 1). The authors find that a celebrity primed with a role model image receives more support for a comeback in the moral rationalization condition, whereas a celebrity primed with a bad boy image receives more support in the moral decoupling condition (Study 2).

Research limitations/implications

First, in the empirical studies, using a pre-test, the authors chose transgressions that were unrelated to the celebrities’ profession and that had an intermediate level of severity. Moreover, these transgressions were manipulated using information about fictitious celebrities to control for pre-existing respondents’ differences on information or biases about them and confounding characteristics between identified celebrities. Despite the control benefits, the disadvantage of this approach could be that respondents’ involvement with the celebrities may be generally lower as compared to studies that use known celebrities (Fong and Wyer, 2012). The involvement or attachment with known celebrities by respondents may be a factor that determines the power of a specific human brand. By using fictitious celebrities, the effects related to human brands may have been bounded or based more on celebrity archetypes. Another limitation is that both Studies 1 and 2 collected data using an online panel. To make the results more generalizable, the authors can contemplate on-site experimental designs or a qualitative approach in future research. The latter may also facilitate the use of known human brands to understand how they interact with other mediating factors without having to worry about control of confounds between respondents. Finally, there is a potential inflation of moral sensitivity stemming from measuring moral reasoning in Study 1 after informing participants about a celebrity transgression. While the authors followed other studies in this procedure, for the effects related to measuring across different image groups this would be less critical, as all participants would be affected in a similar way. However, there remains the possibility that the inflation bias could be higher for one celebrity type and could be a limitation or even a topic considered for future research that delves into specific relationships between celebrity image type and morality judgment bias.

Practical implications

The results of this study have managerial implications for the various stakeholders involved. First, for celebrities, especially role models, living up to expectations congruent to the performances and brand images that they have developed is important. This will necessitate them to manage their consumers’ expectations, and perhaps, suggest that they do not create unrealistically high ones. Although consumer expectations have not often taken center stage as a theoretical issue in recent consumer research, they may still be important for consumers’ evaluations and choices (Howard and Sheth, 1969). In addition, this study offers implications for public relations agencies or management companies that promote and manage celebrities. Although consumers in many countries have a higher preference for celebrities with a role model image, the authors see that being such a human brand can be potentially counterproductive amid scandals. If the level of supporters’ commitment for a celebrity is high and the attachment relationship is strong, then constructing a diverse and flexible image spectrum may be more advantageous in the long term than adhering to just the role model image. In the event that a misbehavior has occurred, celebrities, to the extent that they can identify their brand image, need to assess more precisely the type of moral judgment and support they are likely or unlikely to receive after the transgressions. Based on that analysis, the misbehaving celebrities may have to adjust the rehabilitation period or act of redemption. Finally, the conventional wisdom used by advertising agencies or corporations that the bad boy image of celebrities is more vulnerable to a negative event, needs to be reconsidered (Aaker et al., 2004). This rethinking is aligned with other past research that have also argued that transgressions do not necessarily have an adverse impact on associated brands (Lee and Kwak, 2016). Thus, when advertising agencies use celebrities, they must consider the congruence between the human brand image and the company and review the source and depth of the reasons why supporters like celebrities using a broader perspective.

Social implications

Although consumers in many countries have a higher preference for celebrities with a role model image, the authors see that being such a human brand can be potentially counterproductive amid scandals. For them constructing a diverse and flexible image spectrum may be more advantageous in the long term than adhering to just the unrealistic role model image. Celebrities need to assess more precisely the type of moral judgment and support they are likely or unlikely to receive after the transgressions. Based on that analysis, the misbehaving celebrities may have to adjust the rehabilitation period or act of societal redemption.

Originality/value

The study makes three key contributions by combining celebrity image and moral psychology to assess how consumers pass moral judgment on celebrities who transgress according to different image types, examining the mediation effect of moral reasoning in the relationship between consumer preferences for a celebrity and their support for them after transgressions and looking at consumer support for a comeback of the transgressing celebrity as the dependent variable and not just the effects of the immediate fallout. The value of this study, therefore, lies in understanding the specific dynamics between consumer preference, celebrity image, moral reasoning processes and consumer support to accept a celebrity’s return after a transgression.

Details

Journal of Product & Brand Management, vol. 29 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1061-0421

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Article
Publication date: 16 March 2015

Annelies De Schrijver and Jeroen Maesschalck

Police officers are frequently confronted with moral dilemmas in the course of their job. The authors assume new police officers need guidance, and need to be taught at…

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Abstract

Purpose

Police officers are frequently confronted with moral dilemmas in the course of their job. The authors assume new police officers need guidance, and need to be taught at the police academy how to deal with these situations. The purpose of this paper is to obtain insight into the impact of socialization on police recruits’ knowledge of the code of ethics and their moral reasoning skills.

Design/methodology/approach

The study applied a longitudinal mixed methods design, using two methods. The first method was a qualitative observation of integrity training sessions at five police academies in Belgium. The second method was a quantitative survey-measurement of recruits’ knowledge of the code of ethics and their moral reasoning skills at three points in time: the beginning of their theoretical training, before their field training and afterwards.

Findings

The analyses show differences between the police academies in their integrity training sessions. Some of these differences are reflected in different levels of knowledge of the code of ethics. As for the development pattern of recruits’ moral reasoning skills, the study found almost no differences between the academies. Perhaps this is because recruits already have relatively high scores when they start, leaving little room for improvement during the one year training program. This suggests an important role of the police selection procedure.

Originality/value

Previous research on socialization and police culture has focussed on recruits being socialized in a negative police culture where misconduct is learned. This is a negative interpretation of police integrity. A positive one refers to ethical decision making generally, and moral reasoning specifically. The impact of the socialization process on recruits’ moral reasoning is empirically understudied.

Details

Policing: An International Journal of Police Strategies & Management, vol. 38 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1363-951X

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Book part
Publication date: 7 August 2013

Donald L. Ariail, Nicholas Emler and Mohammad J. Abdolmohammadi

Prior studies investigating the relationship between moral reasoning (as measured by the defining issues test, DIT) and political orientation have rendered mixed results…

Abstract

Prior studies investigating the relationship between moral reasoning (as measured by the defining issues test, DIT) and political orientation have rendered mixed results. We seek to find an explanation for these mixed results. Using responses from a sample of 284 practicing certified public accountants (CPAs), we find evidence that value preferences underlie both moral reasoning and political orientation. Specifically, we find a statistically significant inverse relationship between moral reasoning and conservatism in univariate tests. However, this relationship is no longer significant when eight individual value preferences and gender are taken into account. These results suggest that variations in moral reasoning scores of CPAs are accounted for by their value preferences, which also underlie their relative conservatism.

Details

Advances in Accounting Behavioral Research
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78190-838-9

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Article
Publication date: 24 August 2021

Daehwan Kim, Joon Sung Lee, Wonseok (Eric) Jang and Yong Jae Ko

Marketers and brand managers are subject to reputational crises when their endorsers are involved in scandals. To effectively manage such crises, it is imperative to…

Abstract

Purpose

Marketers and brand managers are subject to reputational crises when their endorsers are involved in scandals. To effectively manage such crises, it is imperative to understand (1) the underlying mechanisms through which consumers process negative information surrounding morally tainted endorsers, and (2) how these mechanisms affect consumer behavior in the context of athlete scandals.

Design/methodology/approach

Drawing on attribution theory and the moral reasoning strategy framework, we investigate the impact of attribution on moral reasoning strategies, and the impact of such strategies on consumers' responses to scandalized athletes and endorsements.

Findings

Overall, our results demonstrate that the same scandal can be evaluated differently, depending on its information, including the consensus, distinctiveness, and consistency of the scandal. The results of Study 1 show that in the context of an on-field scandal, individuals engage in a sequential cognitive process in which they go through attribution, the choice of a moral reasoning strategy, and ultimately a response. The results of Study 2 reveal that in the context of an off-field scandal, attribution directly influences consumers' responses.

Originality/value

We extend the existing literature on the moral reasoning of athlete scandals by suggesting that attribution is a determinant of moral reasoning choice in the context of on-field scandals. We also extend the sports marketing and consumer behavior literature by suggesting that consumers' diverse reactions to athlete scandals depend on their attribution patterns and moral reasoning choices.

Details

International Journal of Sports Marketing and Sponsorship, vol. ahead-of-print no. ahead-of-print
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1464-6668

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Article
Publication date: 13 June 2016

William Joseph Wilhelm and Panom Gunawong

Moral reasoning research in Western cultures is grounded primarily in Kohlbergian cognitive moral theory. Enumerable investigations about the psychological determinants…

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1980

Abstract

Purpose

Moral reasoning research in Western cultures is grounded primarily in Kohlbergian cognitive moral theory. Enumerable investigations about the psychological determinants and cultural dimensions of moral reasoning have provided significant insights about Western decision making and contributed to Western organizational behavioral theory. However, inquiry about these same constructs and how they may interact with moral reasoning in non-Western Southeast Asian trading partner countries has not provided comparable insights. The purpose of this paper is to remedy that by comparing predominant cultural dimensions to levels of moral reasoning in student and graduate populations in Thailand and the USA.

Design/methodology/approach

The Defining Issues Test (DIT) measurement of moral reasoning (Rest et al., 1999) and the Values Survey Module (VSM) 2013 (Hofstede and Minkov, 2013) were translated for the first time into Thai, pilot tested, and used to gather cultural and moral reasoning data in Thailand. The same English version instruments were used to gather comparable data among similarly matched US samples. Comparisons are presented in this paper, and differences in approaches to moral decision making are discussed.

Findings

Findings indicate that there are both significant psychological and cultural differences between the two nations that affect moral reasoning. Predominant status quo moral reasoning predominates in Thailand, while a polarity between self-interest moral reasoning and higher level abstract idealistic moral reasoning predominates in the USA. Potential cultural influences on these moral reasoning tendencies are discussed.

Research limitations/implications

While findings can be generalized to the sample populations of Thai and US undergraduate students and graduate students who are in the workplace, the considerable time required to complete the two survey instruments precluded inclusion of higher level, veteran managers and public policy administrators in the study. Alternative survey methods need to be developed for investigating these subjects in order to make the combined findings more robust and widely generalizable.

Practical implications

Careful attention to cultural and linguistic variables provided for thorough and effective first-time translations of the DIT and the VSM 2013 from English into the Thai language. These two instruments are now available to other researchers who wish to investigate cultural dimensions and moral reasoning through other research designs. The Thai-version DIT can be obtained from the copyright holder, Center for the Study of Ethical Development (http://ethicaldevelopment.ua.edu/). The Thai-version of the VSM can be obtained through the Geert Hofstede website (www.geerthofstede.nl/).

Social implications

These findings can help researchers in Western and non-Western countries to better understand the foundations upon which moral reasoning in the two countries is grounded, and can provide insights about how individuals in quite different cultures perceive ethical dilemmas in the workplace and public arena and attempt to solve them. The findings also serve as another entry point for business managers and public policy administrators to not only better understand organizational behavior as regards ethical decision making, but general decision making as well.

Originality/value

This is the first research study comparing cultural dimensions identified by Geert Hofstede and Michael Minkov as measured by the VSM 2013 to moral reasoning as measured by the DIT.

Details

International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, vol. 36 no. 5/6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0144-333X

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Article
Publication date: 1 May 2020

David Alastair Coldwell, Robert Venter and Emmanuel Nkomo

While the problem of unethical leadership is undoubtedly a global one, the urgency of generating ethical leadership to advance the development of Africa has never been…

Abstract

Purpose

While the problem of unethical leadership is undoubtedly a global one, the urgency of generating ethical leadership to advance the development of Africa has never been more evident than it is today. The challenge for higher education in developing ethical leaders is of core importance, as it is responsible for providing the main recruiting ground of business leaders. The current paper reports findings of a qualitative study of postgraduate students’ ethical development at the end of courses in business ethics aimed to enhance moral reasoning and ethical decision-making. The paper aims to ascertain whether stand-alone ethics courses are more effective than integrated ones in achieving academic ethical competency.

Design/methodology/approach

The study adopts an idiographic approach which aims at eliciting individual student subjective perceptions of the effects of the direct and indirect courses of ethical instruction on their moral reasoning and ethical practice. The research design broadly follows Mill’s (2017) method of difference.

Findings

Findings indicate perceived differences in the relative effectiveness of stand-alone and embedded ethics courses among students but also show that most students hold positive overall evaluations of the effectiveness of the both types of ethics instruction.

Research limitations/implications

Limitations to the study include that it is cross-sectional, involves a small sample of postgraduate students and is restricted to two management courses at one institution of higher learning. Furthermore, while Mill (2017) provides a useful research design in this context, it is not able to indicate causality, as there are other possible unidentified “third variables” that may be the actual cause of student differences between embedded and stand-alone ethics courses. The study is not able to show the durability and transfer of ethical competencies into students’ later working lives.

Practical implications

The study provides a useful practical educational contribution to the extant knowledge in the field in that it suggests that ethical courses aimed at giving students a moral reasoning “toolkit” for ethical decision-making are more effective when delivered in the stand-alone format, whereas practical decision-making skills are best honed by embedded business ethics courses.

Social implications

The problem of corruption in business and politics in South Africa is widely documented and has been regarded as responsible for creating a serious developmental drag on the alleviation of poverty and quality of lives of the majority of people in the country. The moral/ethical competency and behavior of future business leaders is partly the responsibility of institutions of higher learning. The study aims to find the most effective means of imparting moral awareness in postgraduate students who are likely to take up business leadership positions in their future careers.

Originality/value

The study provides useful contribution to the extant knowledge in the field in the African context in that it suggests that ethical courses aimed at giving students a moral reasoning “toolkit” for ethical decision-making are more effective when delivered in the stand-alone format, whereas practical decision-making skills are best honed by embedded business ethics courses.

Details

Journal of International Education in Business, vol. 13 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2046-469X

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Book part
Publication date: 3 May 2018

Tara J. Shawver and Todd A. Shawver

Unethical business decisions and accounting fraud have occurred as a result of lapses in ethical sensitivity and judgment. The Association for Certified Fraud Examiners…

Abstract

Unethical business decisions and accounting fraud have occurred as a result of lapses in ethical sensitivity and judgment. The Association for Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) estimates that a typical organization loses 5% of its total yearly revenues to fraud; globally this translates into losses of over three trillion dollars each year (ACFE, 2016). Regulations such as the Dodd-Frank Whistleblower Program and the Sarbanes-Oxley Act encourage reporting wrongdoing to mitigate fraud losses. Although there are many studies that explore the characteristics of whistleblowers, there are few studies that have examined the impact of an individual’s level of moral reasoning on whistleblowing intentions for financial statement fraud. This study offers several contributions over prior research by exploring the impact of two measures of moral reasoning (P-score and the N2-score) on decisions to whistleblow to either internal or external reporting outlets. This study finds that an individual’s level of moral reasoning impacts whistleblowing intentions to internal management, but an individual’s level of moral reasoning does not impact decisions to whistleblow externally. The practical implications of these findings are discussed.

Details

Research on Professional Responsibility and Ethics in Accounting
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78754-973-9

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Article
Publication date: 1 August 1995

Alan Lovell

Much criticism has been levelled at the accountancy profession,ranging from the failure of accounting documents to reveal a moreaccurate reflection of the financial…

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3038

Abstract

Much criticism has been levelled at the accountancy profession, ranging from the failure of accounting documents to reveal a more accurate reflection of the financial well‐being/ill health of organizations and the collusion of accountants in the preparation and validation of those documents, to the failure of the accountancy profession satisfactorily to take account of the public interest in the determination of the future of accounting and auditing practice. At the heart of these issues is the moral base of the profession and accounting practice, a base which displays contradictory values at a normative level, while at an empirical level the evidence appears to be less ambiguous. Contends that accounting practice cannot be isolated from broader social practices; rather it is shaped by, but also helps sustain, wider social, economic and political developments. Begins with a consideration of Kohlberg′s framework of moral reasoning and then links it to the additional dimension of individualism. Concludes that, while accounting reflects the prevailing values of modernity, it is inadequate to excuse its moral base on this ground.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 8 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

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Abstract

Details

Research on Professional Responsibility and Ethics in Accounting
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-84950-807-0

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